Property’s Ends: The Publicness of Private Law Values

33 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2014

Date Written: March 1, 2014


Property theorists commonly suppose that property has as its ends certain private values, such as individual autonomy and personal security. This Article contends that property’s real end is human flourishing, that is, living a life that is as fulfilling as possible. Human flourishing, although property’s ultimate end, is neither monistic or simple. Rather, it is inclusive and comprises multiple values. Those values, the content of human flourishing, derives, at least in part, from an understanding of the sorts of beings we are ― social and political. A consequence of this conception of the human condition is that the values of which human flourishing is constitutive ― property’s ends― are public as well as private. Further, the public and private values that serve as property’s ends are mutually dependent for their realization. Hence, any account of property that assigns it solely to the private sphere, categorically removed from public values, is incoherent.

Keywords: property, jurisprudence, law, society, values, individual autonomy, personal security

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Gregory S., Property’s Ends: The Publicness of Private Law Values (March 1, 2014). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 99, No. 1257, 2014, Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-13, Available at SSRN:

Gregory S. Alexander (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-3504 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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